Press Release

For Immediate Release: July 22, 2011

MEDIA ADVISORY: Department of Human Rights Open and Ready for Business; Most Funding Restored

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) is once again open to the public, following the longest state government shutdown in recent U.S. history. On Thursday the department resumed accepting and investigating charges of discrimination. As before the shutdown, individuals may contact the department by telephone (651-539-1100 or 1-800-657-3704), through its web site at www.humanrights.state.mn.us, or in person from 9 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday at the Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55155.

As of Thursday, all of the department's services and operating units were once again back in business, including its Contract Compliance unit, which certifies businesses that have an affirmative action plan and are making good faith efforts to comply with their plan.

"We are all excited to get back to work and begin to implement positive changes to improve the department," said Kevin Lindsey, Commissioner of the Department of Human Rights.

Commissioner Lindsey noted that the budget compromise ending the shutdown will result in a 5.1 percent cut to MDHR's budget. "That's good news compared to the 65 percent cut we were facing prior to the shutdown," he said. In addition, the budget compromise removed policy changes contained in a bill the Governor had vetoed, which would have prohibited MDHR from reaching out to businesses with technical assistance, and eliminated the department's ability to educate about the evils of discrimination.

"The Governor understands that discrimination remains a serious problem in Minnesota, and strongly opposed extreme cuts would that would have weakened the Human Rights Act and virtually eviscerated the department," Lindsey noted. "As a result of the Governor's unwavering support and the compromise that resulted, we are confident that we can move ahead, initiate improvements in our process, and make the department even more effective in our goal to make Minnesota discrimination free."

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For more information please contact Jeff Holman, 651-539-1090, jeff.holman@state.mn.us

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